Monday, 2 January 2017

Million Dollar Quartet

Last night was great. We went to my friend Matt's house and stayed there until 2am with the old gang who I haven't seen for way too long. Philip Sallon was there in sparkling, utterly outrageous form. We ate Chinese food and watched a giant TV screen with a multitude of pop videos from the 60s, 70s and 80s on it. At Midnight, as is the custom, Nathan and I had a private moment listening to ABBA's Happy New Year.

Today went in a slightly different direction from the one I assumed it was going to go in. The plan had been for my parents and me to see the matinee of Million Dollar Quartet, the show Nathan's been ticketing at the Royal Festival Hall for the past couple of months. I was going to spend the morning writing and then drift into town for a late lunch.

Just before Nathan trotted off to work, however, I received a panicked email from the parents telling me that all the trains in their neck of the woods had been cancelled and that they had no way of getting into central London. My Mum was devastated and broke my heart by telling me she'd laid all the clothes out on the bed that she was planning to wear. So, to cut a long story short, I jumped in the car and, without so much as a bowl of cornflakes in my belly, drove up to Thaxted to pick them up. It seemed the least I could do. And frankly, my Mum's top deserved an outing. She looked fabulous.

The journey up to Thaxted and back was very speedy. There was very little traffic on the roads, so I was up and back to Highgate within two and a half hours. It was raining horribly when we got back in to London, however, and a car sailed through a puddle right next to me as we were waiting to cross the road. A great wave of water covered my legs in muddy wetness.

The area around the South Bank must have been brutally pelted with rain because we were having to jump over giant puddles and little rivers in the road.

It was worth it, however. I wasn't altogether sure Million Dollar Quartet was going to be my cup of tea. I have limited tolerance for both rock n roll music and juke box musicals, but the quality of musicianship from the performers was absolutely extraordinary. Martin Kaye, as Jerry Lee Lewis absolutely stole the show, with effortlessly charismatic acting and virtuosic piano playing. The moment he walked onto the stage, I found myself wondering where on earth they'd found him. Answer: America, where they revere musical theatre.

The parents loved the show. Rock n Roll was my Dad's first great passion and seeing the raw energy on stage, I was suddenly able to see the genre as something more than a set of simplistic chords crudely banged together by part-time musos. Rock n roll was a movement, a lifestyle, which was probably far more shocking to the older generation than punk became twenty years later. As we left the theatre, my Dad asked if I'd finally understood what it was which made rock n roll so compelling to his generation, and I was able to answer, with absolute honesty, that I did.

We walked across a hugely windy Hungerford Bridge for a delicious meal in one of the Italian restaurants on Villiers Street. Free panettone? Result.

I've been very sad to read about the mass shooting in Turkey. With each new atrocity of this nature, however, I find myself becoming more and more desensitised and this worries me enormously. I was, however, somewhat horrified to see the BBC using a stock image of the club which appears to show hundreds of staff with their hands in the air as though surrendering to someone holding a gun. I think they might all be waving, but perhaps a little more thought could have gone into deciding which picture to use.

For me the most unusual aspect in this particular story are the reports about how many women apparently instantly fainted when they heard the gunshots. This surely can't have helped the mayhem, and may well explain why those who survived the attack felt sure the death toll was far higher than the figure of 39 which is presently being bandied about. I'm not sure that women in the UK would have fainted under similar circumstances, and this sort of makes me wonder if a kind of fragility emerges in Muslim women as a result of how they are treated/ expected to behave in society.

I'm not sure if what I'm writing is particularly appropriate so soon after such an awful tragedy, but the image struck me as noteworthy.

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